CategoryBlended Families & Second Marriages

Fighting Over the Family Legacy

I recently read this New York Times article on the family in-fighting over the estate of the late Merton Simpson.   Mr. Simpson was a painter and pioneering champion of African art who accumulated a collection said to be worth millions of dollars.  The story is sad, for sure.  It is also a reminder for all of us of the value of family and of having clearly spelled out wishes to help guide our chosen representatives in carrying on our legacy.  I encourage you to read the entire article – it’s not very long.

It also brings to mind something I always strongly encourage each of my clients to do – talk to others about your planning and what your wishes are for you legacy.  Many times the “others” you talk to will be family or very close friends, but it may also include close business associates, church leaders, or other people who you trust and know you well.  It’s often a great idea to record yourself sharing these thoughts.  That’s what I do with each client I work with – we have a Priceless Conversation.  Sadly, it seems that Mr. Simpson was taken advantage of by at least some of his family and friends.  Although it was a good thing that a guardian was appointed for him, it seems that the downward spiral in family and business relations was almost passed the point of resolution by that point.

Michael Lichterman is an estate planning and charitable planning attorney who helps families and business owners create a lasting legacy by planning for their Whole Family Wealth™.  This goes beyond merely planning for “stuff” – it’s about who your are and what’s important to you.  He focuses on estate, charitable, and asset protection planning for all generations (“young” and “experienced”), the “sandwich generation” (caring for parents and children), doctors/physicians, nurses, lawyers, dentists, professionals with minor children, family owned businesses, and pet planning.  He enjoys creating life long relationships with his clients centered on their family’s values, insights, stories and experiences.

Even Everyday Families Need an Estate Plan

I recently came across this article on the importance of estate planning for average Americans and it brought to memory my previous blog post on a similar topic.  The article gives examples of several situations faced by “average joe’s and jane’s” who aren’t “rich” by any financial measure of the word.  There are a couple of points I want to call out because I believe they bear special emphasis:

  • If Congress doesn’t act before the end of the year (or shortly thereafter), many middle class families could be hit by the estate tax at a rate up to 55%!  Yes, you read that right – find out more in the article.
  • Blended families (e.g. second marriages) are becoming more common.  News flash – the chance of default Michigan law accomplishing your goals for your legacy are VERY slim in a blended family . . . consider the chances at almost zero.  Having a comprehensive, caring plan in place will help make sure a) your wishes for your family are met, and b) conflict between “sides” of the family are minimized.  As a matter of fact, you could very well disinherit your children.  Yes, it’s true.  Don’t believe me?  Read this previous blog post and you’ll see what I mean.

So, the moral of the story is this: if you don’t have a caring, comprehensive plan in place for you family – GET ONE!  And if you do, make sure to keep it updated as your life changes (for example, we include ongoing 3 year plan reviews at no charge for all members of our client family).  As Nike said . . . just do it!

Michael Lichterman is an estate planning and charitable planning attorney who helps families and business owners create a lasting legacy by planning for their Whole Family Wealth™.  This goes beyond merely planning for “stuff” – it’s about who your are and what’s important to you.  He focuses on estate, charitable, and asset protection planning for all generations (“young” and “experienced”), the “sandwich generation” (caring for parents and children), doctors/physicians, nurses, lawyers, dentists, professionals with minor children, family owned businesses, and pet planning.  He enjoys creating life long relationships with his clients centered on their family’s values, insights, stories and experiences.

Estate Planning’s Critical Importance for Blended Families

Being a Grand Rapids, Mi estate planning attorney and being married to someone who works in the financial industry, I’ve seen the disaster that lack of planning (or poor planning) can cause in blended families (second marriages, “uncommon” children, etc.).  As a matter of fact, I wrote this previous post about a very common mistake that can disinherit your children.

But don’t take just my word for how important quality, comprehensive estate planning is for blended families.  Read this USA Today article about family feuds in estate planning and how they are expected to become more common due to changing demographics.  In particular, read the section titled “Tangled Family Trees.”  What to you think?

If you are part of a “blended family,” run, don’t walk, to an attorney who focuses on estate planning for blended families.  Why would you risk waiting?  Call us at 616-827-7596 today!

Michael Lichterman is an estate planning and charitable planning attorney who helps families and business owners create a lasting legacy by planning for their Whole Family Wealth™.  This goes beyond merely planning for “stuff” – it’s about who your are and what’s important to you.  He focuses on estate, charitable, and asset protection planning for all generations (“young” and “experienced”), the “sandwich generation” (caring for parents and children), doctors/physicians, nurses, lawyers, dentists, professionals with minor children, family owned businesses, and pet planning.  He enjoys creating life long relationships with his clients centered on their family’s values, insights, stories and experiences.